Hatim at-Tayy was known for his extreme largesse, which was so great that whenever a man of his circle found himself in dire straits, he would refer to Hatim at-Tayy as the proverbial solver of all problems.
Once a man who lived rather at a great distance of Hatim’s dwelling place was sorely pressed from want of funds. For days he fretted and worried about this, while his situation steadily worsened, until one day his wife said to him: ‘Whatever we try to do to pull ourselves out of this trouble, it just gets worse. How long is this to go on? Why don’t you go now and speak to Hatim at-Tayy and ask him to help you for once?’
The poor man saddled his beast and, placing his entire hope on Hatim at-Tayy, set out to find him. But when he came to the area where Hatim wielded his influence, he found that another man had taken over from him. Hatim himself had changed his robes and gone off to unknown parts. The needy man’s last hopes were dashed and he fell into despair. He had no choice but to turn back without having accomplished anything, and so he did, in a state of utter dejection.
On his way back he had to stop somewhere for the night. He then encountered a vagrant of strange and wild appearance. They became acquainted and the nomad’s attentive gaze observed the man’s oppressed state of mind and asked him about it. The needy man then began relating to him of his troubles. He explained that he had set his last hopes on Hatim at-Tayy. He continued: ‘But I found not him, but in his place a brutal tyrant is there, who has usurped his lands. I am now returning from there, a broken man with no recourse’.
Thereupon the dervish, who was in reality Hatim at-Tayy himself, rejoined: ‘Do not worry, for Allah will help you’. He then explained that he was Hatim at-Tayy himself and said: ‘You will now take me to the tyrant and he will remunerate you with much more than you ever expected’. Hatim Tayy convinced the man to do it, although for some time the man objected to this plan. And so they both travelled back. Hatim Tayy was handed over to the usurper and the man received in exchange the promised award that was much greater than he had ever imagined.
Then the tyrant asked the man some questions: ‘There is something I wish to learn from you. You do not strike me as the man who has the ability to track down and capture the likes of Hatim at-Tayy. For I have sent out many able and skilled trackers to get a hold of him and they all returned without him. Tell me how you did it. How were you able to catch such a man?’
Now the man spoke up and said: ‘Ah, the story was quite a different one, for in reality I did not apprehend him. I wanted to ask for help from Hatim at-Tayy, but as he was not here my hopes were shattered. I then encountered this stranger on my way home and told him of all my woes. When he had heard of all my troubles, he sacrificed his own life in order to solve my problems and this is the way we came before you’.
These words had such an effect upon the tyrant who had usurped Hatim’s possessions, that all the cruelty and hardness departed from his heart. He repented of his behaviour and immediately reinstated Hatim at-Tayy in his original place.